It was quite a run – he hadn’t said an original thing in ten years, one month, two weeks, six days. He was not aware of the streak – but it was still a streak. At any point, it could be over – he would have to start over, with something new. Maybe all streaks are best kept when the player is unaware of them. He hadn’t said an original sentence in a decade. Drinking at a small, round table, surrounded by small, round tables, he discussed which women he had met, slept with, or who had rejected him, or who were not fitting in his equations of who people were, and how you attracted them, and do you have any advice?
A thin sheet of saying the story was about something that happened during a sexual encounter – she likes to get fucked in a mascot costume – allowed him to say what he wanted – that someone had approved of him enough to have sex with him – in order to demonstrate his value, and secure a place at the table. He said things borrowed from television announcers, or his father, or, from men he idolized, in line, on the big screen, on a team, in school. One table by the bar had ten men and one woman – the players were doing their best to seem like they weren’t performing stories that they had already said. The woman shared obliging smiles.
Isn’t all language borrowed – is there more meaning when people use a higher variety of words?
Why all the hate for the bro, the person whose identity requires the validation of a crowd, of an audience- aren’t all artists doing the same?
Aren’t all tour guides doing the same?
Aren’t all writers doing the same – with exception to the genius, whose art is so pristine that the world wouldn’t understand, and that, anyway, they don’t think art should be in the public realm, because they have no ego?
There was a streak – something that did not exist, if you put it on a scale – an intangible something that people understood as real. Two friends bet on it.
If you got the chance to talk with one of these players away from their group, layers of the performance chipped away as they said something real. They shared critical views, how the downtown buildings were literally held together by the work of those who lived in the poorest neighbourhoods, how the privilege felt by those walking in suits on Saint-Antoine, in Little Ottawa, was only possible because someone was in jail in their place: On a continent where jails were for-profit, someone had to balance out the scale.
When you took them away from the table this is what you heard. You might hear it in the bathroom. You might hear it in the sixty seconds before passing out on the floor. He did not share those sixty seconds.
Today, at the table, he seemed to be pondering what he really wanted to eat, taking an unusual extra second with the menu, and one of his friends cringed.
word by Liam Lachance
colour by Karol Banach
“Crowds came to form a shield against their own dying. To become a crowd is to keep out death. To break off from the crowd is to risk death as an individual, to face dying alone. Crowds came for this reason above all others. They were there to be a crowd.”
-Don Delilo, White Noise